Actor Biju Menon talks about his new-found flair for comedy. His latest flick, Chettayees, releases today.
All those who are ambitious about making a quick mark in films will have to look elsewhere for inspiration. Biju Menon is not the role model for those who want to make it to the top in the shortest time possible. He is more comfortable as an actor who is slowly but steadily garnering his share of hits in Mollywood. Biju has been doing impressive roles, one after the other, ever since he debuted in Malayalam cinema with Puthran (1995), the critically-appreciated sequel to a popular TV serial ‘Mikhayelinte Santhathikal’, in which he featured in the lead. Over the years, he has played lead roles, supporting characters and villains with panache. Recently, the actor seems to have discovered his flair for comedy and has been making his presence felt in quite a number of blockbuster such as Ordinary, Mayamohini, Mallu Singh and Run Baby Run. Biju played one of the leads in last week’s release 101 Weddings, and also, in this week’s Chettayees, directed by Shajoon Kariyal. In an interview, the actor explains his choice of roles and his recent avatar as a producer. Excerpts…
You’ve got a wave of hits recently. Excited?
Of course! The success of the films is partly on account of the appeal of the characters I essayed. That is the exciting part. As an actor, it is great to experiment with roles of varying shades and I have been part of some fabulous films.
You are one of the producers of Chettayees, which is releasing today (November 30).
I was there during the process of developing the story and in all its creative aspects. It was an enjoyable experience and all of us actors enjoyed the shooting, including our stint as singers! The production side was taken care of by P. Sukumar and Shajoon, who are also part of the production banner Thakkali Films, along with Suresh Krishna and Sachi and me. Chettayees is a heart-warming story that happens in a short frame of time. It has been narrated in an entertaining way.
Your flair for comedy seems to be your USP of late.
Most of the characters that I enacted were of a serious nature. However, after my roles in Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, Seniors, Ordinary, and so on, audiences now expect some kind of humour in my sequences. What’s interesting is that my characters in these films are rather serious and I haven’t done anything overtly comic as such in any of them. The dialogues and the situations where the characters were placed in elicited the laughs.
I feel that it is a privilege to make viewers laugh. I have done a wide range of characters and getting acknowledged as a comedian is encouraging for me as an actor.
But then, isn’t there the risk of getting typecast?
I don’t think I will get typecast in such roles. In between my comic roles, I have done characters in films such as K. Gopinathan's Ithra Mathram and Blessy’s Kalimannu.
What do you look forward to in a script?
The importance that my character has in the script, be it positive or negative. Also, I look at the scope for performance.
The peculiar ‘Palakkadan’ accent used by your character in Ordinary was particularly well appreciated. What was the inspiration?
During the location hunt for Ordinary, I had told its makers about a driver I had met during the shooting of Mulla. He used to narrate stories in a particular dialect. They all liked the way I mimicked the driver and we decided to use it in a film. But we were not sure if we could maintain the style for a full-length character, especially during emotional sequences. However, just before the shooting began we decided to go ahead with the accent.
You have been perceived as being rather laid-back when it comes to your career, which has perhaps cost you a place in the top league for many years. Do you think it's a fair judgment?
I don’t think so. I don’t make plans about conquering new territory and because of that I am not aggressive. I have only chosen roles that I am comfortable in – from the many that have come to me. I prefer doing multi-starrers to ‘solo hero’ projects as it won’t force me to maintain a particular image or carry the entire weight of the film on my shoulders. Now, if being unaggressive is being seen as laid-back, then, yes, I am laid-back!